A Farewell Letter To My First Love: The Softball Field. From A Girl With A Chronic Illness.

I grew up with you. Loving you, caring for you, constantly visiting you and sometimes, quite honestly, despising you.

You brought me some of my closest friends, fondest memories, funniest stories, and some of my most valued life lessons. You also brought me some of my first curse words, toughest frustrations, and inevitable girl drama.

You taught me that winning is fun, but that losing will happen too. To never give up, even when you’re far behind. That the underdog can be a champion. To never underestimate people. To stand up for myself and the people I care for. You taught me what it means to be mature when you want to be anything but that. You taught me how to learn but also how to lead. You taught me loyalty and what it means to be a team-player. You taught me love and you taught me loss.

The first time we met, I was too young to recall. And now, all these years later, just the sight of you brings a warmth to my heart that not many others can claim.

Each time we met, the fire within me started. There was always an excitement that couldn’t be fulfilled doing anything else.

When I walked away from you, I either felt satisfaction and joy or disappointment and anger.

Before all this happened, I never expected to one day walk away from you feeling nothing but emptiness.

I never knew something I loved so deeply and valued so greatly would one day make me feel hopeless, sad and defeated.

Every now and then, though, I tell myself that this time it’ll be different.That I will put on my glove and run around the outfield, feeling as free as I once did. Weightless and immortal.That this time I’ll take the bat in my hands and feel the rush as I connect with the ball. Run around, passing my dad waving me toward home plate with a look of pure joy and pride. That this time I’ll step out on your dirt and not worry about how bad I’ll want to tear off my head this time around. That I won’t feel the excruciating pain inside my skull.

And each time, I’m let down. My thoughts become dreams that just need to be put to bed.

We’ve been taught that we will experience love and loss in our life. However, no matter how much we’re taught it, we’re never prepared for it. We know that we will enjoy victory but also suffer defeat. The victory will never feel sweeter and the defeat never more bitter. We will learn what it feels to be completely alive but also what it’s like to be completely numb.

Every time I used to walk away from you, there was no goodbye, only the unspoken promise that I would be back soon. But the truth of the matter is, I never expected my headaches to last this long into my young life. I always was hopeful that something, someone, somewhere would cure me or find a treatment for me that allowed me to be active again. To play again. To truly be one with you again. As you know though, that’s not the case and I don’t think it ever really will be.

So now, I leave you with no return date, only the hope that one day we may meet again.

It’s hard to leave a first love behind. But, maybe we have to sometimes. Maybe in order to move on, we need to find something else to replace the hole where that love once was.

But this statement I know to be true: You never forget your first love.

softball diamond

 

Chronically Grateful Day 3: How Overcoming A Hard Situation Can Leave Us With A Grateful Heart

We all have our own hardships and face our own demons. However, it’s important to be able to look back on our hardships with a grateful heart in order to see the good that has come from it. 

I will share a story of mine about a hard situation I overcame that has left me feeling grateful for having gone through it and hopefully you will be able to do the same about a hardship in your own life.

I started playing softball at a very young age. My older siblings played softball and baseball and my dad coached for all of them. He introduced us to the game that he fell in love with so long ago, and I happened to fall in love as well. I played on a competitive fastpitch softball team for my entire childhood all the way until almost the end of high school. Throughout its entire era, my dad was the coach and we had more or less the same group of girls throughout the years. 

I started getting exertion (exercise induced) headaches when I was about 12 years old. It started as headaches that would come on when I was active in the high heat and humidity. As time went on, the headaches became more frequent and intense. I started having to sit out large portions of practices and games because my headaches were so bad. Time continues and the headaches are brought on any time I ran a lot even if it wasn’t hot or humid. I started to feel useless and inadequate as i sat on the bench wishing my pain away while my teammates continued to play. 

I started to try to play through my headaches. Even when it felt my like head was going to explode into millions of pieces, I still went up to bat and still ran out to centerfield so I wouldn’t have to tell my dad “I have a headache, I need to sit out.” Time and time again. It was getting repetitively upsetting to have to ask to sit out when all I wanted was to stay in the game. Looking back on it though, it was dangerous to myself and my health to play through migraines. I had no focus at bat and only thought about how soon I could get back in the dugout instead of actually wanting to be out on the field. 

As the time came around that my teammates were actively trying to get looked at by college coaches, I had a decision to make. I made the decision to stop playing the game I loved because my headaches said so. It was the hardest decision I had made at that point in my life. As a result, the team dismembered and my dad stopped coaching. I was devastated. 

This was my junior year of high school, and it’s one I will never forget. I was sad a lot of the time, I cried myself to sleep more often than I’d like to admit and I missed the people I had come to consider family. There was a hole in my heart that had before been filled with my ability to play the game I so badly wanted to continue playing.

Softball was all I knew. I spent every weekend and multiple week nights with these people and I loved every minute of it. The thought of losing those friendships killed me. Even more, the thought of never being able to hit a line drive over the shortstops head to win the game or throw a girl out at home from centerfield broke my heart even more.

I’ve since been able to reflect on this. I see now what would NOT have happened had I been able to keep playing and face the possibility of playing college ball.

I would not have attended Virginia Tech for the four most amazing years of my life. Therefore I wouldn’t have made the amazing friends that I did or have all of the exciting (sometimes ridiculous) adventures and experiences that I had. I mean I consider myself so lucky to have met people that even from my freshman year to this day, I consider to be my best friends. 

If I hadn’t gone to Virginia Tech, if I had possibly ended up playing college ball at some other school, I wouldn’t be the person I am today writing this post. Because I was made to overcome this hard situation in my life, I ended up going to a school in a town with the most amazing people that I now can’t picture my life any other way. And for that, I am grateful.